Day 2 started early…or late depending on wether you’ve jet lag or not, it was early to us.
5am, laid in bed, watching Donald Trump talking absolute nonsense lets you know it wasn’t a dream. It’s real, and you are well and truly in America – the land of the free, the home of the brave and the only place on earth that allows a billionaire who until now was more famous for his ridiculous combover take a decent chance at running the most powerful and at times the greatest country on earth.
To set the scene, its pissing it down. I mean torrential – 4 inches in the first 3 hours of being awake. Couple that with wild winds, freezing temperature, and it’s just what you wanted when all you packed was shorts!
First order of the day was breakfast, quickly followed by a whistle-stop trip to Walmart to get some BBQ supplies and to see if the 14 square miles of American retail nirvana that is a “Walmart Super-Centre” has one tiny thread of fashion help that wasn’t dungarees and checked shirts. Spoiler: it didn’t.
Walmart has many things but the 3 most significant to us are
1) Their selection of BBQ sauces
2) Their selection of jerky
3) Their selection of random items unique only to America.
Today, this was bullets. Bullets on aisle 5, opposite the tennis rackets, jock straps and gum shields. You may think that’s weird, even a bit scary and yeah, it would be if you were in ASDA in Rochdale but here in Texas it’s an everyday part of life and something that makes this place infinitely amazing. Anyway, more on this tomorrow.
It was then time to get out teeth dug right into what we’re actually here for… BBQ. Award winning BBQ at that. Killen’s BBQ is located about 30 miles from Houston in a cute little 2 horse town called Pearland. It was recently voted one of Americas top 5 BBQ joints and for good reason. The main man Ronnie Killen has started making waves in not only Houston, but the whole of America with his multi-award winning brisket. Luckily for us and the rest of the meat-loving world, he decided to bequeath the gift of bricks and mortar upon our starving soles and opened his first and as yet only smokehouse right there in the very centre of Pearland – a cute little 2 horse town thats now become home to a BBQ stallion of epic proportions.
We were there for brisket and it didn’t disappoint. Why would it, it’s Texas and this is what they do. We use the very same USDA Black Angus brisket back home at Red’s but this was next level – the simple Dalmatian rub of salt & pepper with a surprise sprinkling of sugar added to the sweet, sticky joy that is a well-smoked layer of fat made for a mouthful of pure, beefy goodness. Their side game? Strong.
The beef ribs were also a taste sensation, smoked to perfection, sliced to order and perfectly spiced with a smoke profile that would make your Grandmother weep. It was gobbled down without a thought to manners or etiquette – our Leeds Pitmaster Cristiano proudly proclaiming it was his dish of the day! The big surprise was the pulled pork – a gritty layer of black pepper gave a wonderful feel to this perfectly pulled pork butt. It was pure perfection on a plate, which is a surprise based on the fact that Texas isn’t known for its pork. Pork is and always will be a Southern staple but it seems the Texans are catching up and doing great things with the curly tailed little truffle addicts.
On the way back from Killen’s we noticed another BBQ joint in Central Texas BBQ – the typical Mom and Pop single story joint you see churning thick yet sweet smoke from a chimney sat atop an ageing, outside smoker. It was a proper brick-built smoker, the kind that is decades old but looks like its been there for a century. This one was four and a half decades old to be exact. Established in 1970, you’d think this little institution would have loathed the fact that such a BBQ heavyweight decided to open just across the way, but it seems not – this charred institution holds its own and rightly so.
Unless you’re been to the U.S and you know just how seriously they take their smoked meat, you won’t know that there’s more than enough room for 1 great BBQ joint in any state, city or even two horse town. People will travel if its good.. and this was good! Regardless of the fact we’d just piled about 20 pounds of beautifully smoked meat into our faces, we’re hardcore so we were having another chomp at the bit.
The sausage had that well smoked snap when you bit through the skin, Polish style with a nice smooth consistency. The brisket was fatty, just how it should be, however slightly too dry but with plenty of smoke and flavour. The ribs were on point, with a nice bite and a good bark. Central can happily be described as good BBQ – not as brilliant as Killen’s but still good.
That night it was crawfish time at Diablo Loco – in season and available, we thought it would be rude not to get a bucket full. 6 kgs of crawfish and 2kgs of salt… or so it seemed. Along with about 100 bottles of Dos Equis and 20 pints of water we pinched the tail and sucked the head off well over a thousand of the little pink bastards. But the salt… just because they’re in season doesn’t mean they’re going to be good.
I’m not sure if it was a method of selling more beer (it worked) but never before have we been mummified, dried and salted like that. A little less boil seasoning next time me thinks! Aside from that, we’d done ourselves proud. A day full of surf, turf and sodium and we were done. At least thats our story and we’re sticking to it – we certainly didn’t go anywhere else afterwards and we certainly still have all our money.
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